A young girl turned her negative experience into a way to make a positive difference in the lives of other children and drivers. When she was just 5 …
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A young girl turned her negative experience into a way to make a positive difference in the lives of other children and drivers.
When she was just 5 years old, Bela Estes, now 8, was hit by a car when she was playing capture the flag with friends in her Arvada neighborhood. When she was hit, she was thrown, hitting the pavement. The accident resulted in mostly minor injuries to her face.
“We’re lucky Bela is still standing here with me,” said Kristi Estes, Bela’s mother.
“A lot of kids don’t have that outcome. We know how quickly our lives could have changed and the life of the driver.”
With Bela as inspiration, Communication Infrastructure Group, the public relations, marketing and graphic design firm where Kristi works, started the Brake for Bela campaign in 2011.
“It’s important to get the word out and to tell drivers to be safe, in neighborhoods especially,” Bela said.
The purpose of the campaign is to remind drivers that more children are outside playing during the summer months and to slow down and avoid distractions while driving through neighborhoods.
“We all have a million things to do and are very busy, but there’s not a text, email or phone call that is worth it,” Kristi said. “We all need to be reminded every year that school is out and there are more kids out, and to put away distractions and be more aware in neighborhoods.”
The campaign also serves as a reminder for children to play safe when they are outside, Kristi said.
For the second year, Bela, Kristi and other volunteers are using FaceBook to spread the word to drive safe. On the Facebook page, www.facebook.com/brakeforbela, drivers can sign the Safe Driver Pledge.
They are also taking the message to the streets by handing out bumper stickers, magnets, bracelets and more at various events, such as Colorado Rockies’ games.
Bela has also spoken in front of several city councils to gain their support, including the Arvada City Council. The Estes accepted a proclamation for Brake for Bela from Mayor Pro Tem Rachel Zenzinger July 16.
“Thank you for the proclamation,” Bela said to the council. “The accident was really scary. This is something that I will always remember, and I hope other children will remember to be really careful while playing outside this summer so they don’t have to go through the same thing I did.”
While the intention of the campaign is to keep kids safe by changing drivers’ behaviors, it has also changed the way Bela thinks about her accident, Kristi said.
“It’s a very positive experience for Bela,” she said. “[The campaign] changed it from a negative reminder at the beginning that summer to a very positive thing she looks forward to; it’s been a healing experience for her.”
The campaign runs through August.
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